The aged care ministry of the Uniting Church in NSW and the ACT, UnitingCare Ageing, has welcomed the announcement by federal Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler, to develop a National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) aged care strategy.
This follows announcements in April of the federal government’s move to include LGBTI people as a special needs group under the Aged Care Act and the provision of $2.5 million over the next five years to train agedcare workers to better support LGBTI seniors.
“You can’t take a one-size-fits-all approach to aged care. The federal government’s announcement shows it is in touch with the specific needs of an important, and often marginalised, group of older people and the challenges facing our sector in meeting those needs as well as possible," UnitingCare Ageing says.
UnitingCare Ageing previously took the innovative step of appointing an LGBTI project officer to understand the needs, expectations and current shortfalls of aged care services.
“We have elderly people in our community who have not been highlighted as a special needs group until very recently; the federal government’s announcement to develop a national plan is a very encouraging step,” Kellie Shields, UnitingCare Ageing’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) project officer, says.
According to Australian Bureau of Statistics and Kinsey Institute figures, the number of older LGBTI Australians, up to 8% of older adults aged 65 years and over, is expected to rise in line with national trends to about 500,000 people by the year 2051.
Steve Teulan, director of UnitingCare Ageing, says: "Our commitment to social equality drives innovation to better provide for people with special needs.”
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